311_fayyad picks olives and flags.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Palestine is becoming a reality, whether we like it or not. The Palestinian
Authority may not be increasing its sovereignty over a single centimeter of
land, but the awareness of the emergence of the State of Palestine is spreading
all over the world. The government of Israel might believe it has a veto over
this process; it may believe it can prevent Palestine from becoming more than a
“virtual” state, but it cannot.
The battle to prevent Palestinian
statehood has been lost, and Israel had better come to terms with this emerging
Yet rather than face this straight on and understand how its
interests would be served by a free, independent, democratic and peaceful
Palestine, this country is instead tightening its grip.
Our forces are
arresting more peaceful activists and popular leaders, preventing protests
against land confiscation, while inciting against Palestinians and the
Palestinian Authority. The face of the occupation is becoming more visible and
Palestinians, joined by internationals and a growing number of
Israelis, are facing off with this ugly face every week all around the West
Bank, from Naalin to Bil’in, from al-Masara to Nebi Salah, from Walaja to Oush
al-Ghrab, from Sheikh Jarrah to Silwan.
In all these places, the scene is
the same, week after week; a protest is staged to decry a land grab to expand
some settlement, a wall or a fence by public popular committees of locals; they
are joined by other Palestinians, Israelis and international solidarity
supporters who march to the point of confrontation. Sometimes some of the young
Palestinians will throw some stones; at other times, with no provocation, the
tear gas, rubber or plastic-covered bullets, concussion grenades and “the skunk”
(stinky liquid) come down. Lately it’s enough just to be there when the soldiers
are riled up.
That’s what happened last week in Silwan and in Nebi Salah.
When there are no television cameras around, the soldiers tend to take greater
liberties, but today everyone has a camera in his or her pocket, and there are
no more secrets.
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When I witness this wanton violence my blood boils and I
am filled with shame. These surely cannot be the Israeli defense forces; just
what are they defending, and in whose name? The farmers of Bil’in whose land was
taken for the expansion of Modi’in Illit are not protesting in order to destroy
Israel; they just want their land and olive trees back, and even the Supreme
Court supports them. But our government acts with blind disregard for the law,
and without the slightest sense of wisdom.
WHEN IDF soldiers fire tear
gas canisters in Nebi Salah even before even a single stone is thrown, I say we
have lost ourselves, and can no longer claim to hold the moral high ground. And
no one should tell me the horrific, inhuman murder of the Fogel family has any
bearing; I’m tired of the competition of suffering. I don’t want anyone to
suffer, and believe that if we were wise, and if we act in our real interests
and if we have the eyes in our heads to see how the world is changing around us,
we would notify the Palestinian people that we, the Jewish people, want to
sponsor the UN resolution for Palestinian statehood. We would shout from every
hilltop that we want the Palestinian people to be free in their land so that we,
the Jewish people, can be free in our land. And we would sit with their leaders,
pull out our maps, and plan our withdrawal from the emerging state
I call on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on the paranoids
and xenophobes who occupy the coalition seats in the Knesset, I appeal to the
NGO monitors: Come to your senses! It is not too late to change course and turn
enemies into allies. We have all paid a tremendous price, and everyone has lost.
Compassion, understanding, a desire to work together so we can all live
peacefully – this is how we can rescue ourselves from the growing hatred around
the world toward Israel.
If we do the right thing, the whole world will
not be against us. Let’s stop being so shallow as to actually think we can win
battles with new hasbara
, while attacking Jewish groups in America that don’t
agree with the Israeli policies.
Our friends in Europe are about to join
the rest of the world in recognizing Palestine. An American veto in the Security
Council, and even a letter signed by 96 senators and 400 members of the House of
Representatives will not prevent the state of Palestine from being born. We can
try to oppose this process for a few more years, maybe, but we will not be able
to block it.
If we ever hope to coexist with the state of Palestine,
Israelis must join hands with Palestinians and nonviolently co-resist the
occupation (special credit to my daughter Elisha and her partner Noam Lekach for
the term). Our liberation and their liberation will be won together.
writer is co-CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information
(www.ipcri.org) and is now in the process of founding the Center for Israeli
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